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Campus Danger

Police bubble on college campus
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Kerby Andersonnever miss viewpoints

College students have been convinced they face danger everywhere. A comment becomes a microaggression. A name on a university building is a link to the country’s racist past. But the greatest threat is a student without a mask.

A recent column talks about how danger has become “the woke weapon on campus.” University restrictions due to the pandemic have essentially become institutionalized. Now that some of the restrictions are being lifted in many parts of the country, administrators, faculty, and students might have to learn to adapt.

A few years ago, I interviewed Jonathan Haight, one of the authors of the book, The Closing of the American Mind. He and his co-author devoted a section of their book to the idea of “safetyism.” A generation that was protected from physical dangers with bike helmets and other devices, came to believe the world was dangerous and required parents and teachers to protect them. Then came the pandemic, lockdowns, and mandates.

Protection from danger allows those in control to have even more power. In the past, there have been speech codes and the justification for disinviting any speaker that might offend student sensibilities. The pandemic provided an excuse to control even more behavior on campus. Returning to normal will be difficult.

The column tells the story of trying to revive a Harvard tradition, but then learning that it will be strictly controlled by the Harvard Committee on Student Life. In Massachusetts, 95 percent of all eligible ages have had at least one vaccine dose, while 98 percent of students are vaccinated. Harvard students are more protected than the general population of Massachusetts. But the danger of COVID is amplified and distorted.

Returning to normal on campus will be difficult for two reasons. First, administrators aren’t ready to relinquish control. Second, students are still willing to comply because they fear any danger on campus.viewpoints new web version

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